The 1st Kiss - Part 1

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At the end-of-year party after the last day of grade eight, Alex unexpectedly closed his eyes and leaned towards me. The feeling of my male best friend's cold lips on mine paralyzed me with shock. When it finally sunk in what was happening, I shoved him away without sparing a second of thought.

We stared at each other blankly. Alex was clearly drunk, but he seemed to realize at least what he'd just done. Our friend Jeremy was moaning from inside the bedroom we guarded and I felt my cheeks heat as it further hit me what sort of touch we'd just had. I stood up and looked towards the stairs, feeling the urge to distance myself from Alex. Was he just drunk? Should I get him some water? It'd be really wrong of me to just ditch him, no matter how much I wanted to run and gather my nerves. "Uh..."

Alex blinked and regained some mental clarity. "Oh, whoa. Sorry man." He let out a short laugh. "I must be really fucking drunk."

I began to relax as Alex seemed to confirm what I'd been thinking. He was just drunk. The thought of Jeremy and his girlfriend behind the door had maybe made him want to kiss a girl too. When you're drunk, the closest person might do, even if they're a guy. That's what I thought. But as Alex rubbed his lips as if to erase what happened, I noticed his eyes full of torment. He stood up and those eyes began to shine. I could recognize that expression in a second. Alex was fighting tears.

I was wrong.

He didn't kiss me because he was drunk and thinking about kissing a girl. And he hadn't looked at me since I stood up to put some space between us. "Yeah, I'm just gonna go home... I drank too much."

Jeremy had been the one moaning. Right now, Alex was speaking roughly like he did when he wanted to seem really masculine. Speechless, I stared at my best friend as it sunk in. Alex was gay.

He finally glanced at me. Whatever expression I was making was bad enough to break the floodgates. He ducked his head to hide his tears and choked out, "See ya, man."

As I watched Alex flee down the stairs and escape the party, I felt a mess of emotions.

I knew it. I had already known it. My best friend was gay. He had always been gay.

I hadn't known for sure, no. He'd never mentioned thinking any guys were attractive. He never started up talk about girls on his own, but neither did I. He was just always naturally a bit effeminate in speech and mannerisms. But I'd told myself that was just a stereotype. Yeah, most of the effeminate guys I'd ever seen or heard about were gay, but not all had to be. Yet Alex sometimes grew a little awkward when gay people were brought up, so I always considered it a possibility. Before, when it was just that, I hadn't cared. I told myself it wouldn't matter if Alex was gay. But now that it was confirmed, I was terrified.

I was scared because I didn't have the slightest clue what to do.

Jeremy came out of the bedroom and asked, "Where's Alex?"

I'd been standing there, shoulders tense and mouth open, staring for an abnormally long time at the stairs Alex had disappeared down. I swallowed and rolled my stiff shoulders, trying to look casual in front of Jeremy. "He was drunk, so he went home." I picked up the cans of beer from beside the door, noticing one was knocked over. Probably from when I pushed Alex away.

Jeremy raised his eyebrow. "You didn't take him?"

I stared at Jeremy blankly, realizing that indeed wasn't like me. Under normal circumstances, I would have chosen walking Alex home over guarding the door against drunken partygoers for Jeremy.

I shrugged without giving Jeremy an answer and later went home, not even bothering to text Alex to see if he'd gotten home okay.

**

The next morning, my eyes were glued to Alex's text of, "Sorry again. I was really drunk," as I laid in bed thinking about everything. I felt horrible for not knowing for sure when we were growing up that Alex was gay. How long had Alex known? Had he known back in elementary school when Raphael used to tease him? Had he known back in grade 7 when the rumor that he was gay had spread? Why didn't he tell me?

With the way Alex seemed to regret what happened, I figured he'd come try to see me to talk. But I wasn't ready to talk to him. I wasn't ready for him to come out to me because I didn't know how to help him. I lied to my mother, telling her I was going to hang out with Jeremy. Instead, I wandered about, visiting all the places around town we frequented as kids, back when things were uncomplicated and we were innocent. When we covered our eyes in embarrassment or squealed "gross!" when people on TV kissed.

I spent a week sulking without exchanging any contact with Alex when we normally talked every day. At the end of the week, I went to the public library and searched for books about gays. As suspected, there wasn't much. The internet would be easier, but I was paranoid about the librarians or other patrons seeing what I was browsing.

My phone lit up with a text from Jeremy asking, 'Why does Alex think ur with me?' and I knew that meant Alex had come to my house asking for me.

'My mom told him wrong, I guess,' I replied.

**

The next day, I gathered my courage to look up stuff on the computer at home. I ended up posting on a forum, explaining everything about Alex, me, and the kiss and asking for advice. There were replies laughing at or admonishing me for not realizing he was gay sooner and not supporting him so that he could come out. Since I was already feeling guilty about it, they just added salt to my wounds.

Then my vision went blurry as I saw the response, "He's in love with you."

Alex was in love with me?

Other people agreed and I felt like the world had stopped moving.

I was even more terrified and confused than before. I wanted to cry, thinking that my friendship with Alex could never go back to the way it was before.

I'd lost my best friend. 

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